Summary: What are the basic truths that a real believer must understand? Why does Jesus tells us to "be perfect?" What is the difference between real and false religion?...

Are you a Borderline Believer?

Part II

Hebrews 5:13-14

Purpose: To demonstrate that a lack of passion for God’s Word indicates an absence of a relationship with Christ.

Aim: I want the listener to see if their commitment to Christ is valid.

INTRODUCTION: Could I see a show of hands: How many here this morning are perfect? I thought so. Notice that I’m the only person with his hand up. I feel sorry for the rest of you.

Seriously, being perfect is actually very important. It must be possible because Paul said that he spoke to perfect people when he wrote the church at Corinth: 1 Corinthians 2:6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are [perfect]. . . (NAU) Paul also declared that his goal was to: Colossians 1:28 . . . present every man [perfect] in Christ.(NAU)

Before we can understand how to be perfect we need to be clear that Jesus is perfect. In fact, the whole book of Hebrews talks about how perfect Jesus is.

If we had to sum up the book of Hebrews in one word, it would be the word “better.”

Hebrews proves that Christ is better than angels, Moses, Joshua, and Aaron. This book shows us that Christ’s forgiveness is better than any other religious system, even the OT system of worship. We also learn that the benefits of following and serving Christ is far better than anything else.

We are looking at the third of five important warnings given in the book of Hebrews.

The warnings get progressively tougher and tougher. Drifting away from Christ leads to doubting Christ which leads to not displaying Christ which leads to drawing away from Christ which results in denying the truth about Christ


5:10-6:8 I. A Warning to Those Who Claim to Know Christ

Vs.10-14 A. Beware of acting like an unbeliever

Vs.10-11 1. Unbelievers are lazy learners “you have become dull of hearing”

Vs.12 2. Unbelievers avoid the Great Commission “you ought to be teachers”


➔Vs.13-14 3. Unbelievers neglect God’s grace

Let’s start by understanding what the word MATURE means. 5046 τέλειος [teleios /telios/] . From 5056; 8:67; 1161; 5455; 19 occurrences; translates as “perfect” 17 times, “man” once, and “of full age” once. 1 brought to its end, finished. 2 wanting nothing necessary to completeness.[Strong, J. (1996). The exhaustive concordance of the Bible : Showing every word of the test of the common English version of the canonical books, and every occurence of each word in regular order. (electronic ed.) (G5046). Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship.]

Here is the problem. God’s standards are too high for us. Jesus commanded us: Matthew 5:48 “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.(NAU).

Jesus also told a young rich man, Matthew 19:21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, [same word: perfect] go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”(NAU). We often focus on the part where Jesus tells this man to give up his money (which means we must be willing to forsake all to follow Christ) and we miss the important command to “follow Me.” Jesus was saying that perfection is only found in Him.

In both of these passages Jesus used the same word that is translated “mature” in Hebrews 5:14. It is impossible for us to be perfect. Everyone agrees about that. But, our tendency is to reject perfection (after all, nobody’s perfect!) and aim for “doing the best I can.”

Here is the solution in verse 13. The WORD OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. This is the message about the righteousness of Christ which is given to us through faith.

The WORD OF RIGHTEOUSNESS is about God’s glorious righteousness. 2 Corinthians 3:9 For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory.(NAU)

Why is God’s message of righteousness so glorious?

➔The Grace of God Displays Christ’s Righteousness

➔#1 Religion highlights our goodness, not Christ’s

Romans 1:16-17 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”(NAU)

➔#2 Religion highlights our work not Christ’s

Romans 3:21-22 21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;(NAU)

Christ took our sin and gave us His righteousness. 2 Corinthians 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.(NAU)

Philippians 3:9 and may be found in [Christ], not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,(NAU)

➔#3 Religion highlights our devout behavior not Christ’s

Only Christ’s righteousness is sufficient to save. Titus 3:5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,(NAU)

1 Corinthians 1:30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,(NAU)

In the next chapter our writer calls Christ: Hebrews 7:2 . . . king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace.(NAU)

Now, let’s look at these two verses separately so we can get a better understanding of what it means to be perfect.

➔Vs.13 a. God’s grace changes a person “he is an infant”

Salvation is not through a religious system. Salvation, God’s grace, is through Christ alone. Hebrews 7:11 Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron?(NAU)

Don’t let what Peter says in First Peter confuse you. Peter is using a similar metaphor or picture, but with a different context. 1 Peter 2:1-3 1 Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, 2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, 3 if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.(NAU)

Peter is even using a different word than in our text. Peter’s word NEWBORN BABIES means a “newly born infant.” The word INFANT in Hebrews 5:13 means, “childish, simple, or unskilled.”

Peter is saying that a newborn naturally desires nutritious milk if it isn’t full of unhealthy junk food (Vs.1). In today’s text the writer is saying that you can’t understand the glories of Christ (the“solid food” of Christ’s wonderful eternal priesthood in chapter 7) if you haven’t received salvation by grace (“milk”).

In I Corinthians 3:1 Paul talks about “infants in Christ” but here there is no mention of these infants being IN CHRIST.

We know the writer in Hebrews is picturing what an unsaved person looks like because he expects that it is possible for “maturity” to happen quickly in the first verse of chapter six.

Spiritual growth for a Christian, on the other hand, is a gradual, often slow, process.

✔ If the foundation is faulty the house will not stand. If a person’s religion is not built on the solid foundation of God’s grace, the religion will not be enough.

➔Vs.14 b. God’s grace brings discernment “discern good and evil”

Hebrews 13:9 Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.(NAU)

In this context the particular sense in which the readers are urged to distinguish between good and evil is in relation to Christianity and Judaism. Not that Judaism was evil in itself; the Levitical system was introduced by God Himself. But it was intended to point forward to Christ. He is the fulfillment of the ceremonial types and shadows. Now that Christ has come, it is sinful to return to the pictures of Him. ✔ Anything that rivals Christ in the affections and loyalties of men is evil. Spiritually mature believers are able to discern between the inferiority of the Aaronic priesthood and the superiority of Christ’s.[MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. (1997, c1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments (Heb 5:14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.]

Some of the Jews that this letter was written to loved to learn about the symbols of salvation, but they ignored the substance of God’s grace. Today the focus is often on emotional experiences or a desire to know the future, i.e. prophecy.

Paul made it clear that salvation is all about Christ, not ceremonies. Colossians 2:16-17 16 Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— 17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.(NAU)

If you are “ not accustomed to the word of righteousness” (Vs.13) then you are not a Christian. Philippians 3:9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,(NAU)

You cannot know for sure that your sins are forgiven if you don’t understand the difference between religious forms and God’s grace. This is why Paul said: 1 Corinthians 2:14-15 14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, . . .(NAU)

In other words, if you think that worship and religion (to the Jews that would be the sacrificial system) is gaining you some favor with God, then you only know about the “milk” or shadows of religion and not the “meat” of being made to God through the gift of His righteousness.

For example, our focus should NOT be, “I really need to be going to church.” Rather, we should think, “I really want to be closer to Christ so I want to go to church.”

CONCLUSION: In light of what we have learned today, let me ask for another show of hands: How many perfect people do we have here this morning? The only way to be perfect is to accept Christ’s perfect righteousness as your own.

Romans 8:32-34 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 ✔ Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.(NAU)

✔ Men are more unwilling to part with their righteousness than with their sins.

Stephen Charnock[Thomas, I. (1996). The golden treasury of Puritan quotations. Includes index of authors. General index created by Christian Clasics Foundation. (electronic ed.). Simpsonville SC: Christian Classics Foundation.]